Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Back To Reality

I've had to remind myself that it's really only coming up for four weeks since seeing in the new year - ah, the joys of being back to work after the holiday! Still, being back at work hasn't meant I've given up on doing what I was doing over the holiday, it's just a case of fitting thing in around being at the office. There seems to be an inordinate number of people I've known for years who are leaving work before the end of the month, so there is a feeling of 'will the last person to leave remember to turn out the lights......'

It was nice though, having that time over the holidays - just the perfect time of the year for doing things at a leisurely pace - as the year progresses, there will be more demands on my time one way or another.  Thinking about it, I don't often find myself at a loose end, but I do hanker after being somewhere else fairly often.  I've worked full-time since I was sixteen, supplementing periods of low income with part-time jobs on top of the full-time one which involved knitting, teaching cookery, being a carer and an Avon Lady (ding-dong!).  Once I started studying for a degree, I realised full-time and part-time work wasn't practicable, so the part-time work got the elbow out of necessity. After that the study-time was replaced with more running, admin for the running club and so on - a pretty average life really!

So, between work and running, I've still kept up with some baking - I  made a Cherry and Almond Battenberg a week or so ago - a Mary Berry recipe from one of the Great British Bake Off books. I've only made this once before for an event, on which occasion I didn't manage to get a slice, but did sample some of the off-cuts, which were fairly nice.  As my other half swears Battenberg is his favourite cake, I thought I would give it a go again.
I couldn't eat a whole one though.

As I was quite happy with my recent attempt at making crumpets, I did buy more crumpet rings so that I can now do four at a time, so cutting down on the time on the griddle.  I'm a fan of cheese muffins - which seem to have vanished off the shelves in some shops - so I thought cheese crumpets would be a nice substitute, to this end I added 60g of a strong cheddar to Mr Hollywood's recipe, which worked quite well, though I might experiment with just slightly more cheese next time round.

Having had a bit of cold weather fairly recently, I have wanted to eat comforting things, or foods with a bit of heat to them.  One recent tea was a bean casserole with paprika and a splash of port, topped with sweet potato - made up as I went along and guaranteed to sustain an uphill run in the snow.
Not sure I can remember how I made this....
Another dinner was a favourite from Denis Cotter - the honey roasted butternut squash mentioned in a previous post - just substituting broccoli for the cauliflower in the green curry element.  I think I should have another attempt at growing butternut squash as I love eating them. 

I tried out another recipe from Nopi - seems rude not to as it was a Christmas present - a five-spiced tofu and cardamom passata.  The complete recipe includes steamed aubergine, but not having any aubergines in the veg rack last Friday, I thought the tofu and the passata would be fine as they were, served with udon noodles with carrots and sugar snap peas through them.  I know some people loathe tofu with a vengeance, but, stemming from Yotam Ottolenghi's kitchen, it was never going to be tasteless.  It certainly didn't disappoint.

Anyway, in the spirit of growing my own, I made a start towards this year's crop.  I have to admit that I haven't paid the garden as much attention the last couple of years as I should have, but I've got a few ideas of changes I want to make and I needed to sow a few seeds which need a long growing season - several varieties of chillies, peppers, baby aubergine and sweet-peas - all now in the heated propagator and starting to sprout.  I had a good sort through all the seed packets and threw out those that were just a little too old.  I also realised how few flower seeds I have, though I have loads of vegetable seeds, possibly because I've taken advantage of some gardening offers that happened to come with free seeds in the spirit of "growing your own".  Hopefully I will manage to grow something we can eat - while out in the garden I did manage to pull a few carrots sown last year - a nice variety for cooking whole.  I was absolutely amazed that they hadn't being eaten by anything and were completely unblemished. 

So hopefully I will succeed with a few crops this year - just watch this space!

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